Though a bit poetic and grandiose near the end, some parts are fairly useful; the chapter entitled "Slouching towards Bethlehem" for instance. The chaThough a bit poetic and grandiose near the end, some parts are fairly useful; the chapter entitled "Slouching towards Bethlehem" for instance. The chapter "Bathhouses and Spiders" gave me mathematical chills. If you can make it through millennia of boring historical exposition and on through the high-concept math (sort of a fuzzy real analysis) you'll get to the philosophical bits, and that's what I enjoyed the most. If you like even your conversational math to be strict this book might infuriate you. If you failed (or never took) calculus you won't understand much of the second half of this book. ...more

I thought this book was a little too light on actual math. I think this is more for hobbyist types; possibly Da Vinci code fans. The author is prettyI thought this book was a little too light on actual math. I think this is more for hobbyist types; possibly Da Vinci code fans. The author is pretty fluffy in his coverage of some topics, and seems more interested in searching out patterns and significant coincidences than proving anything concrete. Sometimes I really think the conclusions or the "discoveries" of the use/existence of phi are reaching. Still, I think this might be a decent book to open up haters into the beautiful world of mathematics. Especially for those who, though numerically challenged, like puzzles or possibly conspiracy theories. ...more

Jeremy gave this to me for my birthday in... 2004? And I still haven't read it. I look forward to reading it, I just haven't found the time, because IJeremy gave this to me for my birthday in... 2004? And I still haven't read it. I look forward to reading it, I just haven't found the time, because I kind of wanted to review some calculus before I do. ...more

This book tried really, really hard to make something long and drawn out and fairly boring seem like the most exciting thing of all time. It is prettyThis book tried really, really hard to make something long and drawn out and fairly boring seem like the most exciting thing of all time. It is pretty exciting that someone finally solved Fermat's enigma. What isn't that exciting is the way in which it happened. Developing this proof took months of work on the part of the person credited, on top of the years of research and work of numerous people before that. The math in this book is very difficult, and not explained in any great detail, because the book focuses more on dramatizing the course of events leading to the proof. I'm not exactly sure who the audience for this was meant to be - maybe topologists who don't mind reading something lacking in rigour because they long for more excitement in their field. It wasn't a total waste of time to read, and sometimes it was amusing because the author is trying so hard, but I wouldn't recommend this book to... well I can't think of anyone I *would* recommend it to, actually....more

This is an interesting survey of several central mathematical concepts, but I don't think it's as useful as a reference or "key" as the title would haThis is an interesting survey of several central mathematical concepts, but I don't think it's as useful as a reference or "key" as the title would have you believe. It kind of reads like someone's senior thesis sometimes; fair enough explanations without really enough detail or background, and a little jumpy in proofs and topics. Still it's not totally worthless; the concept is really interesting and it's a nice survey of some ideas that any math grad that's not actively using their degree probably hasn't encountered in a while. However, I think this book would need far more concrete examples of interdisciplinary nature and more coherence between chapters to be truly useful to anyone outside of math. It might only work - and even then only slightly - to serve its intended purpose for mathematicians, enabling them to pick up and read the specialized texts of other scientists, but personally I'm not so sure very good mathematicians couldn't do that already anyway. ...more

I read a couple of specific chapters of this in college when I was researching for a paper on naive set theory. This book is intensely meta; it's fullI read a couple of specific chapters of this in college when I was researching for a paper on naive set theory. This book is intensely meta; it's full of logic puzzles and poems and cultural references and self-referential humor and all kinds of bizarre synthesis between disciplines. I would love to take the time to read the entire thing... someday. ...more

I have no idea how I obtained this weird little book. It's just a bunch of one page thoughts or factoids about mathematics and science, each with theiI have no idea how I obtained this weird little book. It's just a bunch of one page thoughts or factoids about mathematics and science, each with their own illustration. Some are interesting and profound, others I'm not even sure are true or up to date in the world of scientific hypothesis. The illustrations aren't all that great. Some of it is kind of wonderous and inspiring, though; I think it would make a nice small coffee table book, or perhaps something you would give teen or pre-teen who was sort of interested in math or science, just to peak their curiosity. There's one page that's really great, though, about math as a language. Actually, the book might be worth looking at just to read that one page. I think that's why I've kept it all this time. Occsionally when I'm feeling discouraged about math I reread it and am inspired again. ...more